Friday, February 23, 2007

Good Old-Fashioned Paper-Flavored Spam!

Greetings to visitors from Alan Yu's "al6400.com" blog. Please leave a quick message in the comments area so I know you were here! Thanks, and enjoy this ridiculous tale! Cheers! —Phos....

Cripes, I loathe these sleazy, greasy rat bastards.
(Hello to GalaxyMall. I see you peeking in from Orem Utah!)

Maybe they figure now that we're all becoming more savvy about how to recognize and summarily ignore and trash spam email, they'll revert to the old tried-and-true: Sending out junk mail come-ons through the USPS. Cool Old Hippie Bud—my favorite mailman—delivered a beauty today.

It's an earnest solicitation to attend a conference at one of several local hotels about the secrets of making a gazillion dollars through internet marketing. The copy on the envelope and its contents is fully buzz-word compliant, and replete with plenty of bold, italicized and underlined phrases. It's an exclamation point lover's bit of printed paradise.

The first thing I notice—and what made my spidey-sense tingle like I was whizzing on a 440v line—was that this doofus-bait was addressed to my Dad. I've lived at my current address since the weekend after September 11th 2001. Dad has never lived here.


Dad has been dead since the Summer of 1994.


The front of the envelope has a crappy stock photo close up of a linen-swathed table—forks, wine glass & bread basket—with a place setting card. Within the blank area of the place card is a tiny version of the marketing company's logo, and below that it reads:

Dinner Table For:
My Dad's Name
& Guest

Of course, I immediately know that whoever sent it is marketing to a badly erroneous and out-of-date mailing list. This tells me they're not too swift about the very subject of the conference they're desperately trying to con people into attending. Either that, or they're just too damned cheap to buy a recently confirmed list of prospects. Idiots.

So, let's forgive them their little addressing glitch for a moment. Flip over to the back of the envelope and the first thing you notice is one of the by-now very well known silhouette pictures that Apple uses to market iPods covering over 46% of the available space (It's pictured above, and yes, I measured it). Next to the picture is a box promising a:

Complimentary Lunch or Dinner and
FREE MP3 Player For
My Dad's Name & Guest

Hmm...maybe I'll go. Who wouldn't mind sitting through a 90 minute pitch in order to walk away with a free iPod? Plus get some free grub? I could deal with that.

Upon opening the envelope and looking at the contents I see logos for ebay, Yahoo, Google and MSN. I see a toll-free phone number, hotel locations and the date, some bullshit testimonials from people who allegedly attended a previous conference. I can envision these drooling paste-eaters leaving the conference they attended, whipping out their cell phones in the hotel lobby, calling their boss at home and telling him to go get stuffed, because their get-rich dinghy has just docked on the rickety pier that juts out into the creek running through their back yard.

And yes, dear readers, there's another immediately identifiable blue and black silhouette picture of a guy with an Apple iPod. And right next to it—in big red type—FREE MP3 Player!

Oh...wait. What's this? There's another picture of a couple of odd little items that look a bit like Swiss Army knives with warts. Ahhh-HAH! Now I get it.

It's a picture of a pair of the actual MP3 players they're giving away. Near as I can Google, they were made by a Hong Kong company named HY Techno, and they're called Fish. Not only are they not Apple iPods, they're WMA players ("Windows Media Audio"...ohhh, big fun!), and these old versions aren't even anywhere to be seen on the HY Techno website. Hell, I'm a damned fine Googler and I couldn't even find a picture matching the ones being given away.

OK. Let's say we forgive these people for trying to save a few bucks by giving away outdated, low-capacity, no-name mp3 players (Edit for adjusted thinking: Considering the manufacturer specs them as WMA players, they might not even work with standard *.mp3 audio files). I can kind of understand; lots of companies give away cheap tchotchkes as a way to draw attention to their main product.

But who are the people throwing these little shindigs? Poking around the ’tubes for a generic combination of words like "Internet Marketing Conference" brings up a steaming dog pile of irrelevant results. Even when I added bits of the return address ('seattle' , 'christensen rd.') from the envelope to my search string, I didn't find any info about the company. On a whim, I decided to add the name of the person who "signed" the letter addressed to dear old dead Dad—'sanderson'.— and whaddaya know!? I got what I was looking for.

But things don't look too rosy in InternetMarketConferences-ville. According to RipOffReport.com, these lovely folks have a long and storied history with dissatisfied bait-takers. Further, government action has been taken and adjudicated against them (under any of several DBA names, including "GalaxyMall", "StoresOnline", and "Imergent, Inc.") in California, Maine, Texas, Washington, their home state of Utah—shoot, even Australia got in on the fun.

After seeing those reports, it all became clear to me.

Back in the Spring of 1998 or so, I attended one of the seminars given by GalaxyMall. I had only had my own computer and been online for about 9 months at that point, but even then—after witnessing their pitch—I realized that these assholes were only in it to take money from the pitiful-yet-hopeful souls who thought the end to their financial woes had just sauntered up and smacked them in the back of the head. The organizers at the seminar I attended put more pressure on the attendees to buy in than a used Yugo salesman looking to commish some fresh Pabst Blue Ribbon for later that day. And I was truly saddened to see some retirement-age folks—and others who were clearly internet-ignorant—actually stuck around after the presentation so that they could hand over their hard-earned money.

And yeah, they gave away a little goodie at that seminar all those years ago, too. It was a cheap ballpoint pen with the GalaxyMall web address on it. I had to laugh, for when I returned home and went to the URL, GalaxyMall.com looked for all the world like the online version of a hastily-built slipshod strip mall that just couldn't find tenants to lease space to.

Serves the bastards right.

Die, DIE! DIE!!! you opportunistic jackals! And have fun fending off Apple's attorneys for using their iPod marketing images to promote your scam, because as soon as I post this, I'm sending them a sweet little email.

2 comments:

Al said...

I can see the sparks flying!

Phosphor said...

A'yup!

Not only do I collect 'em, I occasionally have a wee bit of a tendency to deal out a few of my own. Not that anyone has ever noticed, mind you.